The first typescript

[Page 13]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 13


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[All this must go into a letter.]dele
Also the feeling of being lived, looking for people,
And the gradual peace and relaxation
That boil down, through rings of cold and fatiguedele
Smearing much of the day into feardele
At find you not in, bloody from beating down doors, and incomprehensibledele

But an architecuredele
Made of us like rain commands a viewdele
Of its plain. There's nothing leading to its footman's empathy. It is the attraction of this mucusdele
But there's no personal involvement
These sudden bursts of hot and cold
Are wreathed in shadowless intensity
Whose moment saps them of all characteristics
Thus beginning to rest you at once know.

Once there was a point in these islands,
Coming to see where the rock has rotted away,
Buying milk, and becoming a poiXXX tiny point in the distance.dele

But war's savagery... Even the most patient scholar, now
Could hardly reconstruct the old fort exactly as it was
That trees continue to wave over it. That there is also a small museum somewhere inside
That the history of costume is a no less fascinating study than the history of great migrations.
I'd like to bugger you all up
Deliberately falsify all your old suck-ass notions
Of how chivalry is being lived. What goes on in beehives.
But the whole nasty rotten mess, deliberate XXXXXXXXXXX misunderstandings includeddele
Problems about the tunic button etc. How much of any one person is there.

Still, after bananas and spoonbread in the shadow of the old walls
It is cooling to return to the shadow of eaves in the shower
That probably fell while we were inside, examining bowknots
Old light-bulb sockets, places where the whitewash had begun to flake
With here and there an old map or illustration. Here's one for instance--
Looks like a weather map... or a coiled bit of wallpaper with a design
Of faded hollyhocks, or abstract fruit and gumdrops in chains

The wind soughs carefully in the umbrella pines.
How nice to lie on one's back, looking up
Into that worlXXXX bird-hopping world of flecked sunlight and shadow.dele
But how is it you are always indoors, looking through at too-heavilyXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX peering at too-heavily cancelled stamps through a greasy fingerprinted magnifying glass?dele
And slowly the incoherencies of day melt in
A general wishful thinking of night
To peruse certain stars over the bay.
Cataracts of peace pour from the poised heavens
And only fear of snakes prevents us from passing the night in the open air.
The day is definitely at an end.